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A suitable job?: A qualitative study of becoming a nurse in the context of a globalizing profession in India

Johnson, SE, Green, J and Maben, Jill (2013) A suitable job?: A qualitative study of becoming a nurse in the context of a globalizing profession in India International Journal of Nursing Studies, 51 (5). pp. 734-743.

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Research on Indian nurses has focused on their participation as global migrant workers for whom opportunities abroad act as an incentive for many to migrate overseas. However, little is known about the careers of Indian nurses, or the impact of a globalized health care market on nurses who remain and on the profession itself in India.


To explore nurses’ accounts of entry into nursing in the context of the globalisation of the nursing profession in India, and the salience of ‘migration’ for nurses’ individual careers.


Qualitative interview study (n = 56).

Settings and participants

The study drew on interviews with 56 nurses from six sites in Bangalore, India. These included two government hospitals, two private hospitals, a Christian mission hospital, a private outpatient clinic and two private nursing colleges. Participants were selected purposively to include nurses from Christian and Hindu backgrounds, a range of home States, ages and seniority and to deliberately over-recruit (rare) male nurses.


Interviews covered how and why nurses entered nursing, their training and career paths to date, plans for the future, their experiences of providing nursing care and attitudes towards migration. Data analysis drew on grounded theory methods.


Nursing is traditionally seen as a viable career particularly for women from Christian communities in India, where it has created inter-generational ‘nurse families’. In a globalizing India, nursing is becoming a job ‘with prospects’ transcending traditional caste, class and gender boundaries. Almost all nurses interviewed who intended seeking overseas employment envisaged migration as a short term option to satisfy career objectives – increased knowledge, skills and economic rewards – that could result in long-term professional and social status gains ‘back home’ in India. For others, migration was not part of their career plan: yet the increases in status that migration possibilities had brought were crucial to framing nursing as a ‘suitable job’ for a growing number of entrants.


The possibility of migration has facilitated collective social mobility for Indian nurses. Migration possibilities were important not only for those who migrate, but for improving the status of nursing in general in India, making it a more attractive career option for a growing range of recruits.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences > School of Health Sciences
Authors :
Johnson, SE
Green, J
Date : 25 September 2013
DOI : 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2013.09.009
Copyright Disclaimer : Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Uncontrolled Keywords : CareersGenderGlobalisationIndiaMigrationNurses
Depositing User : Melanie Hughes
Date Deposited : 13 Dec 2017 11:52
Last Modified : 16 Jan 2019 19:05

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